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Offline rfg123

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Content creation questions..
« on: August 21, 2009, 05:24:00 PM »
I would like to apologize in advance if this is posted in the wrong place.. I am new to these forums, and since pak128 has peaked my interest, I figured this would be the appropriate forum.

In any case, I am a custom content creator for the game Sim City 4. I specialize primarily in 3D models (which have to be highly detailed for SC4), primarily using the 3DSMAX and GMAX programs. My area of interest is none other than railroads and rural industry. As such, I would like to know if taking models from these other programs, and placing them in Simutrans was possible. To date, I only have a feed mill/grain elevator (1970s era +), a few skyscrapers based on real buildings, a handful of locomotives + rolling stock, and an American style railroad crossing gantry (deleted most of my other models when I lost interest in SC4).

What, exactly, is the process involved in taking objects I have created, and getting them into Simutrans? Do I really need to use the Blender? I tried reading the Wiki, and it was my understanding that PNG files were involved.. However, the lack of a solid step by step tutorial is rather frustrating.

Furthermore, is it possible for me to remodel the current rail crossing as they appear in Simutrans to display my crossing apparatus?

Would really like to share what I can with the community.

Thanks in advance for any assistance,

-Frank

Offline Isaac.Eiland-Hall us

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Re: Content creation questions..
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2009, 06:08:47 PM »
I'm *not* a content creator, but I'm the first to respond at this point, so I'll at least give the pointers I can, which are limited. :)

First, welcome. Second, this is a good enough place to post if you're specifically wanting to do pak128 - maybe I or someone else will move it later, but it's fine. :)

Ultimately, you'd be trying to create a "pak" file -- which is a little confusing, because graphic sets are also called "paks" or "paksets" - sorry, the terms are historical by now...

A pak (i.e. vehicle/building/etc) consists of:
- a 24-bit png (8bit RGB channels, no transparency which would be 32bit png)
- a dat file

You'll need makeobj (which, assuming you're a Windows guy), runs on the command line. It's a bit cryptic to get started, but once you get it, it's not too bad :)

Here's info on writing dat files:
http://en.wiki.simutrans.com/index.php/Dat_File_Reference

There's info about the png files (and placement) here:
http://en.wiki.simutrans.com/index.php/Creating_addons

I'm not currently sure where to get some source files that would also be good examples... I know pak64 is open source now, but pak128 is still in progress...

So ultimately -- as long as you can create 24bit png files, it can get into Simutrans :)

EDIT: To add- anywhere you see an image with a light-blue background (which gets made transparent in-game), that's nearly certainly an example of the png file you'd be going for. Anti-aliasing can be a pain - because if you anti-alias to that blue, you'll get a border in-game...

Offline VS

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Re: Content creation questions..
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2009, 06:09:36 PM »
Hi, and welcome! Somehow the usual welcome crowd missed your first thread :P



Since we are a community with more ties to open source than commercial or serious business (all of us mad rail-transport-whatever hobbyists), the prevalent tools would come from the same "side of border". Thus the assumption is that you will use Blender, Gimp, Inkscape and the like. Anyway. Good message - None of these is needed at all. The workflow is roughly like this:

1) create (any way you like)
2) isometric png images + textual description in dat file
3) compile to pak file with makeobj
4) put in game and play!

So all you have to do is render your items so that they look right in 2D and from there the path is the same anyway.



On to second question - gantries. Currently Simutrans supports one type of graphic per way/way combination on crossing. So yes, you can definitely make Simutrans use your model, although you'll have to replace the current one.

EDIT: ehhhhh, faster!
EDIT2: and all good advice.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2009, 06:14:29 PM by VS »

Offline rfg123

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Re: Content creation questions..
« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2009, 10:11:30 PM »
I appreciate both of your help.. The problem was, it was not made clear to me initially that the png files are indeed the source of the objects in game, and not the actual 3d models I create. Takes a load off of my mind, seeing as a real 3D render can take hours, whereas creating an Isometric PNG is instant. I simply downloaded a PNG someone posted with a similarly sized railcar, and rendered views based on the 8 frames on the strip. I then simply copied the background color and placed my renders over the ones already in place.. Writing the dat was quite easy and straightforward, without a whole lot of issues. The only thing I have to ask in regard to the dat is whether or not I should base the stats on the real world version?

My problem came in the next step. I downloaded MakeObject, PakBuilder, and PakHelper. I tried using the latter with limited success, MakeObject does not seem to do anything when I clicked the exe, and I have not found the png input on the other two programs.. Am I missing something in that regard?

Truth be told, I actually only plastered one of my locomotive renders onto the premade strip, just to test and see if it would show in game if I ran it around a test track. No success so far. Would really hate to render and edit all 8 views if the first one does not show.

Offline vilvoh

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Re: Content creation questions..
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2009, 11:30:21 PM »
The only thing I have to ask in regard to the dat is whether or not I should base the stats on the real world version?

It depends on the author. Some people prefer to be realistic, even if it implies that the object won't be balanced. Others use the current objects from the game as a guide to set attribute's values. Imho, a mid point between realistic and entertaiment is the best choice.

My problem came in the next step. I downloaded MakeObject, PakBuilder, and PakHelper. I tried using the latter with limited success, MakeObject does not seem to do anything when I clicked the exe, and I have not found the png input on the other two programs.. Am I missing something in that regard.

Makeobj is a command line tool, so it won't do anything when you click on the exe. If you're a windows user, ihmo the best choice is PakHelper, which it's just a simple makeobj GUI, but as you said it doesn't have png input. This is absolutely intended.

To create a pak file, you need the dat and the png. The dat file contains the list of attributes, including the references to the graphics contained in the png file. Then makeobj will join all that info in a pak file, and as Pakhelper is just a GUI for makeobj, the png input is not necessary. It's already present at the dat file, indeed.

Check this article to have a global view about how to use PakHelper (it's in spanish)...link

P.S: P.S: I'm glad to see that Simutrans is attracting new artist and graphic developers from other similar games...  :)

Offline rfg123

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Re: Content creation questions..
« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2009, 02:05:57 AM »
Finally managed to get my locos in game, the problem was my PNG was 32 bit instead of 24.  ::)

In any case, I am working on getting the alignment and scaling correct. I hope to release a U18B set soon.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2009, 09:43:03 PM by rfg123 »